In retrospect, Roseanne Barr was a ticking tweet-bomb just waiting to go off. She’d made offensive remarks on Twitter before, but when she suggested that Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett was the child of the “Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes,” the reaction was swift and severe. ABC immediately canceled her show, even though the reboot of her hit 1988 to 1997 sitcom had been one of last season’s highest-rated series. The network’s entertainment president, Channing Dungey, said Roseanne’s remarks were “repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”
The move may have cost the network up to $60 million in advertising revenue — and dozens of cast and crew members lost their jobs. Still, some of Roseanne’s co-stars publicly supported the move. “I am disappointed in her actions, to say the least,” wrote Sara Gilbert, who spearheaded the revival. And Sara’s TV daughter, Emma Kenney, applauded the Disney-owned network for “standing up for morals,” adding, “Bullies will never win.”
Sara Gilbert and Roseanne Barr.
Roseanne’s co-workers were aware of her fringe political opinions and belief in untrue conspiracy theories but they tried to avoid those topics on the set. “It was like having an older relative with differing political opinions — don’t bring it up,” an insider told Closer Weekly. “They were careful not to set her off.”
The sudden move to end her show sent the star spiraling. (Her ex Tom Arnold said she’s “having mental health issues.”) “Roseanne is self-destructive — it’s only going to get worse,” the insider said. “She’s still in shock.” So are her former fellow employees, some of whom may try to sue her for lost wages. “They are all utterly wrecked,” said the insider. “The younger co-stars are confused and mad, and the veteran actors are furious at Roseanne.”
Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold.
There’s been talk of continuing the show without Roseanne, like The Hogan Family and Two and a Half Men did after stars Valerie Harper and Charlie Sheen, respectively, exited under less-than-friendly circumstances. Writer-producers Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling even offered to create shows for some of Roseanne’s now-displaced stars like Emma, John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf.
But this situation is tricky: Roseanne, 65, co-owns the series, so any deal would have to placate her. “Good luck trying to get her to agree,” said the insider. As for the star, she’d be wise to take some time away from the public eye, like Kathy Griffin did when she lost her gig co-hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve coverage after posing for a photo with a mask of Donald Trump’s severed head. Then, the insider speculates, Roseanne “will be on the comeback trail and keep on bad-mouthing ABC and the ‘Hollywood liberals’ and keep her Trump base adoring her.” (The president had praised Roseanne for supporting him.)
Networks may be more careful about hiring divisive stars moving forward. “ABC knew that Roseanne was controversial,” the insider concluded. “But they didn’t think she’d be sutterly stupid.”
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